Dan Feldman

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Steve Kerr got Warriors to click offensively by promising them two days off in Los Angels if they did

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Steve Kerr has helped turn the Warriors into an offensive juggernaut.

Talent like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and eventually Kevin Durant certainly helps. But Kerr implemented a style of ball and player movement that really works.

It didn’t initially, though. After becoming accustomed to Mark Jackson’s isolation-heavy style, Golden State looked uneven earlier in Kerr’s first season. Players remained too stationary without the ball, and they were off in their decisions to pass or shoot.

Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

By virtue of a schedule quirk, the Warriors were granted a four-day break after a road game against the Lakers, and when Kerr entered the visitors locker room at Staples Center before tip-off, he proffered a deal: “Play the way we’ve been talking about and play the right way — take care of the ball, defend, do all that stuff — and I’ll give you the next two days off.” The players literally gasped in disbelief.

That night, there wasn’t one moment, or a singular play, but a river of them — a constant flow, the ball pinballing around the court, side to side, to the tune of 343 passes. “Beautiful,” Kerr says, thinking back on it. The Warriors scored a season-high 136 points.

In the days prior, what Kerr had most wanted was to know that his words were being heeded. “You just want to know the ship is heading in the right direction,” he says. And as he watched the rout unfold, he saw everything he had been preaching, his players carrying out his vision with focus and flair.

This encapsulates what makes Kerr such a great coach. He obviously had a fantastic scheme, but he also knew how to reach his players.

Two days off in Los Angeles? That’s a carrot that draws attention.

Andrew Wiggins signs max contract extension with Timberwolves

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Andrew Wiggins‘ contract extension took long enough.

First, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said his team would offer a five-year max deal, but then said he wanted to look Wiggins in the eyes first. When the offer was finally on the table, Wiggins fired his agent then delayed signing.

Finally, it’s done.

Timberwolves release:

The Minnesota Timberwolves announced the team has signed forward Andrew Wiggins to a multi-year contract extension.

This is a five-year max extension. If so, the value won’t be known until the salary cap is set next summer, but it projects be worth $146.45 million.

Questions remain: Does the deal contain a player option? Is Wiggins eligible for the super max if he makes an All-NBA team this year? Will an agent receive a commission on the deal? And of course, is Wiggins worth it?

A max deal is the only way Minnesota could have secured Wiggins now for the next five years. Any lower salary, and the extension length would have been limited to four years. There’s value in locking up a young talent for so long (if, of course, the extension doesn’t include a player option).

But Wiggins’ defense and rebounding are far from commensurate with his athleticism. A volume scorer with good efficiency for his usage, Wiggins doesn’t distribute enough. He’s also too reliant on mid-range jumpers.

Don’t get me wrong. Wiggins is already pretty good, and he has the physical tools to become much more. But he’ll need to expand his game to justify this extension.

J.R. Smith says he is ‘absolutely’ frustrated to lose starting spot, won’t cause problems

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J.R. Smith started at shooting guard for the Cavaliers as they reached three straight NBA Finals and won a title, fitting smoothly into his 3-and-D role.

Then, Cleveland signed Dwyane Wade, who supplanted Smith in the starting lineup.

In a related move, the Cavs will also start Kevin Love at center and move Tristan Thompson to the bench. Love and Jae Crowder starting allows the Cavaliers to surround LeBron James with outside shooting that Wade and Derrick Rose don’t provide.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

J.R. Smith said “absolutely” he is frustrated that he lost his place in the Cavaliers’ starting lineup to Dwyane Wade, though neither he nor Tristan Thompson aim to make trouble now that they’re both coming off the bench.

“We talked about it,” Smith told cleveland.com. “It wasn’t the most positive conversation, but we talked about it and we’ll get through it together.”

Thompson said he and Smith wanted “everybody to know” they weren’t “upset or angry”

This is exactly the response you want to see. Smith doesn’t have to be happy about being demoted. Someone competitive enough to thrive in the NBA isn’t conditioned to take this passively. But the Cavs don’t want him sulking and creating problems, either.

It seems Smith is threading the needle with the ideal way to respond.

Knicks sign Trey Burke

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He might stink, but he also might be the Knicks’ best point guard… Part 5.

Frank Ntilikina is far and away the Knicks’ most valuable point guard, but he’s also a raw rookie. Ron Baker, Ramon Sessions, Jarrett Jack and Burke might be more ready to contribute now.

Jack signed an unguaranteed contract, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Burke – coming off a dreadful year with the Wizards – got the same or similar. Considering how late he signed, Burke might be headed to New York’s minor-league affiliate. There, he’d still have a chance to work his way up to the parent club.

There’s only a small difference between being out of the NBA and in the Knicks’ point-guard rotation.

Report: Jordan Brand ending Carmelo Anthony’s signature-shoe line

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Carmelo Anthony waived his no trade clause to go from the lone All-Star in New York to the third-best player in Oklahoma City.

That coincides with a major endorsement change.

Nick DePaula of ESPN:

Jordan Brand is halting the Melo shoe series after 13 models, according to industry sources, making last season’s Melo M13 sneaker the final model of the line.

Despite the end of his signature line, sources say Anthony — who agreed to a new long-term endorsement deal with Jordan Brand in January — will remain a key featured athlete for the company.

Anthony, via Erik Horne of The Oklahoman:

“It’s false. False,” Anthony said. “Let’s not even discuss that.

Does DePaula have better sources at Jordan Brand than Anthony does? Perhaps, the report is inaccurate, but DePaula is reliable on shoe news.

Anthony still has a deal with Jordan Brand, and it’s unclear how this new arrangement affects his income. But, at minimum, it’s a loss in prestige.